We are currently advertising National Productivity Investment Fund Industrial CASE studentships with a deadline of the 16th July 2018.

02 / 10 / 2017

Convergent evolution of enzyme function (WILKINSON_J18DTP1)

how to apply

The chorismate biosynthetic pathway is required for the production of aromatic amino acids, essential building blocks of life.

However, on numerous occasions microbes have hijacked this pathway and diverted it to produce molecules that include many lifesaving drugs such as the antibiotic rifamycin, used in the treatment of TB, and immunosuppressive agents such as rapamycin. Such compounds are fundamental to modern medicine and without them many procedures that we take for granted would not be possible.

Being ever thrifty, in order to hijack this pathway Nature uses existing enzymes from the chorismate pathway and re-purposes them for the new task. In some cases the evolution of different enzymes from the pathway has converged to produce the same new product.

The studentship will investigate this process with the ultimate goal of bioengineering enzymes to carry out new functions, enabling the production of valuable new 'non-natural', natural products for use in medicine, for example as new antibiotics.

The successful candidate will have access to cutting-edge research facilities as well as a stimulating research and training environment. They will be part of an interdisciplinary team and through the project will gain an excellent foundation in protein evolution, molecular microbiology, x-ray crystallography and synthetic biology.

The combination of skills and experience provided by this studentship will make the successful candidate highly employable in academia or industry.